Workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina apply to injuries that are suffered by an employee and not independent contractors or subcontractors. There are times when employers try to wrongfully classify their employees as independent contractors as opposed to members of their staff for the purpose of getting around having to pay workers’ compensation benefits.
In fact, some employers may ask you to sign written documents that state you are not an employee of theirs. But, if you are employed and you are hurt on the job, you are certainly an employee. If your employer is arguing that you are not an employee when you need to claim workers’ compensation benefits, you should get in touch with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney right away.
Under South Carolina law, there really isn’t a set definition of an independent contractor. Typically, an independent contractor is a person who exercises independent employment and does piece work according to his or her own methods without being under the control of an employer, in other words, without being told when and how to do their job.
Only employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, and determining whether or not an injured member of staff is officially an employee or an independent contractor is often an issue that is contested before the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Hurt At Work—Now What?
You got hurt at work. Your doctor’s fees are ridiculous, and you don’t know how you’ll pay for the visits. How are you going to pay your rent when you’re out of work recovering from your injuries? Elrod Pope can help you figure out what to do. Our firm’s highly trained workers’ compensation attorneys are ready to fight to get the benefits you are entitled under the law.
Employee Or Contractor And Why It Matters
In the United States, most employees can claim a benefit called Workers’ Compensation if they get hurt at work. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as calling your supervisor and forwarding your medical bills. Only some workers count as employees and can get workers’ compensation benefits. You could be in for a bad surprise when you try to file for benefits even if you’ve worked at a company for years. Companies sometimes classify their workers as “independent contractors” instead of employees, and the line between the two can blur. It is essential to get a clear understanding from your employer about what kind of worker you are. If you have questions, an experienced worker’s compensation attorney is the best person to ask.
The Four-Factor Test for Determining If You Are an Employee or an Independent Contractor
This analysis tends to be fact-intensive and the courts usually rely on a Right to Control Test in order to determine if you are an employee or an independent contractor. The test assesses whether your employer has the right to direct and control your work. When conducting the test, the court examines a number of factors to figure out if the right to control exists in your case. The factors that show right of control include:
- Method of payment
- Right to fire
- Direct evidence of exercise or right of control
- Furnishing equipment
Based on these four factors in your South Carolina workers’ compensation claim, the court determines if your employer has the right to direct and control your work. Note, however, that the right to control does not require being told how to perform your work. It is simply enough if your employer has the right to direct you and dictate where, the date, and amount of services are provided by you.
When your employer furnishes the tools and equipment, your employment status is really a matter of common sense, whereas an independent contractor may have his or her own tools and equipment. Further, payment on time is also a strong indication of your employment status, whereas if you are paid on completion of a project, you are more likely considered to be an independent contractor.
Finally, the power to terminate your work or fire you is considered the power to control. If you, as the injured employee, have the ability to be fired, then this does, indeed, support an employer/employee relationship.
Boss Says You’re A Contractor
South Carolina law says that some workers who are called independent contractors by their employer may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. That means the law says some workers are employees even though their company calls them contractors. If you think that might be you, you should call a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer right away. You might be able to get compensation under South Carolina law.
Can an Independent Contractor Get Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, our workers’ compensation laws provide protection for employees who are injured while at work. But, not everyone hurt in the workplace is considered an employee. Often, companies hire independent contractors, and they are just as susceptible to on-the-job injuries as employees. When an independent contractor is injured, it can create a complicated situation.
Overall, employers are obligated to provide workers’ compensation insurance just for their employees and not for any independent contractors they may contract to work for them. Hence, an independent contractor may not make a claim for workers’ compensation if he or she is hurt while carrying out a job for a company.
It is worth noting that the South Carolina Supreme Court has stated that there are certain situations where someone that an employer refers to as an independent contractor could well be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This is due to the fact that employers will sometimes call someone an independent contractor when they really are a full-time employee.
However, employers do not get the final call on whether someone is an independent contractor or their employee. In fact, the federal government, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and even the state of South Carolina has a set of criteria that determine what a person’s role really is.
If your employer claims that you are merely an independent contractor when you suffer an injury in the workplace, but you are really considered an employee under the law, you are entitled to make a claim for workers’ compensation in South Carolina.
Am I An Employee?
You might be an employee if certain conditions apply to your job. Does your company direct or control how you do your job? Or give you equipment to do it? Can your company fire you? Do they pay you directly? If you recognize these conditions, you should call a workers’ compensation lawyer right away. You could be entitled to compensation for your injury. Elrod Pope Law Firm fights for workers’ compensation benefits and may be able to help you.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.